With The Return Of High School Sports Undecided, WPIAL Says Student Athletes Will Recover

Apr 28, 2020

It’s unclear when high school athletics will begin to practice and compete again. Spring seasons were canceled and off-season sports aren’t allowed to practice until July 1 at the earliest, due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Tim O’Malley, the outgoing executive director of the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League, said while the loss is disappointing for student athletes, they will recover.

“Although interscholastic athletics play a very vital role in what it is that the kids do and what it is that they certainly want to do. It's a small part of what it is that we as a society are being confronted with,” he said. And these kids will respond or adjust and they'll be telling their grandkids about it 40 or 50 years from now.”

As for scholarships, O’Malley said he thinks students who had a shot are already well situated for their next opportunity.

“Most kids going into their senior year in their spring sports have identified the post-graduate institutes that they wish to attend and what it is that they're going to pursue be at academically and or athletically. So they're taken care of,” he said.

The state Department of Education has not decided if schools will return to buildings in the fall. That decision will determine what happens to fall sports and the jobs associated with them. For now, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association says fall sports are scheduled to begin as planned.

While coaches are still getting paid thanks to Act 13 signed into law March 27, officials, bus drivers and others with jobs connected to high school sports are, for the most part, out of work.

“Certainly there’s a trickle down effect as it is with anything that’s been postponed or canceled,” O’Malley said. “A number of people are impacted.”